The taxpaying residents of Liverpool are urging the City Council to be transparent as pressure builds for the disclosure of the identities of two elected councillors summoned to court over alleged failures to pay Council Tax. Information obtained through a Freedom of Information request revealed that two elected representatives faced court summonses related to non-payment or late payment of Council Tax. Despite the evident public interest and the precedent set by previous cases, the City Council has firmly declined to disclose the names of the involved councillors or any additional details concerning their identities.
This decision has prompted a call for an internal review from the City Council, challenging the withholding of crucial information. Should this internal process fail to unveil the identities of the councillors, the matter will be escalated to the office of the Information Commissioner, and legal avenues will be explored. The gravity of councillors facing court summons over Council Tax issues cannot be understated.
Under Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act, councillors with outstanding Council Tax debts of over two months are barred from voting on the council’s budget. Failure to adhere to this regulation constitutes a criminal offense. Opposition parties are now exerting pressure on council leaders to prioritize transparency and disclose the names of the individuals involved.
The leader of the Liverpool Community Independents group on Liverpool Council emphasized the importance of addressing potential misconduct: “There is a possibility councillors who failed to pay their council tax on time voted on a maximum council tax rise. We all understand that mistakes can be made, but the public has the right to examine the issue and make its mind up on the conduct of councillors. Liverpool City Council continues to have a problem with transparency.”
The leader of the Liberal Democrats characterized the council’s decision as reminiscent of a cover-up mentality from previous eras. He asserted, “City Councillors are voting for significant increases to people’s Council Tax year after year, but some haven’t even paid their own Council Tax. The public has a right to know that when they’re paying in, their elected representatives are paying in too. It is evident that these councillors should be named, and if they haven’t paid up, then they should step down.”
In response to the public outcry, our investigation revealed a wave of calls for transparency on social media. One individual expressed frustration, stating, “I really don’t see why they refused to release the information. They will obviously be made to. Councils and MPs really do need reminding that they are not above the law.” Meanwhile, a city charity representative called the council’s withholding of information appalling, expressing hope that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) would intervene. Another commentator emphasized the broader implications, stating, “It is in the interest of all the other councillors that these two be named. It may not be that big a deal. But in holding out, the council makes a mountain out of a molehill and leaves all councillors under a cloud.”
As the controversy deepens, the demand for transparency becomes increasingly urgent. The City Council’s decision not to disclose the names of the councillors involved raises questions about accountability and the public’s right to know about the conduct of their elected representatives. The forthcoming internal review and potential involvement of the ICO may prove pivotal in determining whether the city council will yield to the pressure and reveal the identities of the councillors facing court summonses.